Australian man shares his old canteen menu at Mount Gamier North School, evoking nostalgia

Nostalgic Aussie man shares his old elementary school canteen menu from 1986 — so how many of these snacks do you remember?

  • Australian man has found his old school canteen menu from the 80s
  • 1986 Mount Gamier North School Canteen Menu Offered Items for Under $1
  • The nostalgic menu had many memories of days gone by on social media


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A nostalgic man has taken a trip down memory lane after unearthing his old 1980s school canteen menu.

The man, from South Australia, found his canteen menu at Mount Gamier North School from 1986 showing how a $2 gold coin can get you a chicken sandwich, sausage roll, yogurt and fruit juice with 20 cents left.

The 35-year-old menu offered most items under $1, including a 70c pizza, a 50c Vegemite sandwich, and a 50c devon sandwich.

Old school favorites like Burger Rings and Tasty Toobs cost just 35 cents, while a single Arnott’s Shape sold for a meager 1 cent.

“My parents are renovating their kitchen and I found my old canteen price list in primary school in the back of a cupboard Mom was cleaning out… look at those prices,” wrote Dave in the Old Shops Australia Facebook group.

The man, from South Australia, found his canteen menu at Mount Gamier North School from 1986, showing how a $2 gold coin can get you a chicken sandwich, sausage roll, yogurt, and fruit juice with 20 cents left.

The man, from South Australia, found his canteen menu at Mount Gamier North School from 1986, showing how a $2 gold coin can get you a chicken sandwich, sausage roll, yogurt, and fruit juice with 20 cents left.

Elementary school students in the 1980s had a choice between white and brown rolls and sandwiches, with prices starting at just 40c.

The menu shows the huge difference between the simple dishes of more than three decades ago and the gourmet options served today.

Modern school cafeterias have since succumbed to strict health guidelines, with most food items from the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s being discontinued.

Sugar-sweetened beverages, including lemonade, fruit drinks, soft drinks and energy drinks, have been banned from being sold in public schools in NSW since 2007.

School cafeterias now offer healthy ‘everyday’ meals, snacks and drinks from the five food groups – including grains, vegetables, fruits, milk, yogurt, lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu and legumes.

The nostalgic menu evoked many memories of days gone by on social media.

“I was in elementary school in the ’60s and for 15 cents I got a sausage roll, sauce and a donut with pineapple cream with 2 cents change for a bag of lollipops,” wrote one woman.

Another said, “Well, half that stuff would be in the red zones of today’s cafeteria. Take me back to the days of the canteens where food was tasty and nobody gave a continental Frankfurt.

As one woman added: ‘I work in a school cafeteria and it’s getting harder and harder to survive with these rules – bring back the old days.’

Some Aussies asked what ‘fritz’ sandwiches were, and many explained that in South Australia it’s a common term for devon or luncheon meat.

While others said they didn’t know what ‘bush’ cookies were, one woman said, ‘They were like a giant square cookie, taste a bit like milk coffee, but with more malt.

“They were harder than regular biscuits, so you could dip them in coffee without breaking them. My school used to sell them with butter and we gnawed on them like rats. A forest biscuit would last throughout the break and lunch.’

What do modern school canteens offer students today?

Daily meals, snacks and drinks are healthy foods from the five food groups:

• cereals (eg bread, rice, pasta, breakfast cereals), usually whole grain

• vegetables

• fruits

• milk, yogurt, cheese and/or alternatives (eg calcium fortified soy milk), usually low in fat

• lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans

Daily meals and snacks include:

• salads, sandwiches, wraps, burritos, burgers, curries, stir-fries with rice or noodles, pasta, lasagna, soup, cornflakes, yogurt, fruit salad and vegetable sticks with dipping sauce (eg hummus and salsa)

Ham can be used in everyday foods and meals such as salads and sandwiches

Daily drinks include:

• water, pure and flavored milk and ≥99% fruit/vegetable juice

Source: NSW Ministry of Education

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